DIY: An attempt to recreate the Whole Foods commercial aesthetic, but with books (a bookshelf silhouette)
You’ve probably seen this really cool Whole Foods commercial where they show a cut out of a person on a white piece of (probably) card stock with images of fruits and vegetables behind it. It looks something like this:
I love the creativity of these commercials and kept thinking to myself, I wonder if I can create this but with bookshelves. So I tried to figure it out and I tried two different ways. One way failed but I fixed it. The second way worked really well. So here is what I tried, what works, and what doesn’t. In the end, I think you can create fun images and this would make some great materials for either social media or even a teen program.
Let’s Talk Your Starting Image
To begin, I started by getting my kid, Thing 2, to pose as a test subject. I had her pose in front of a white background. We tried several poses and you need a full body pose with some distance. A white background is essential, otherwise you will spend a lot of additional time working out how to change or remove a colored background to get the needed white background. A white wall works, the smoother the texture the better. If you don’t have access to a white wall, you can use apps to change the background to a white background. But at the end of the day you want a full body picture of a person with a plain white background.
Here’s the image we worked with:
ATTEMPT ONE: THE MORE TRADITIONAL WAY
I then printed this out on 4×6 photo paper using my Selphy printer, which I love and highly recommend. To be clear here, I recommend the printer for most photo printing needs. I don’t recommend this approach for this project, let me tell you why.
First, cutting out the image is really kind of difficult. If you’ve ever tried to cut out a silhouette of a person you know that it’s hard to get a good cut. If you are going to attempt this, use different scissors, smaller with a finer point, not regular household scissors. This is just one of many mistakes I made here.
But this method doesn’t work for another important reason: you’re sheet of paper is too small for the background images. In order to get a lot of books from your bookshelf into the image, you need the right size image. 4×6 is far too small.
As you can see, you can barely fit any books in the background when you overlay your image over a bookshelf. No matter how far away I pulled the picture, it did not work.
Here’s a caveat: if you did this with a cutting machine like a Cricut or a Silhouette Cameo using a larger piece of card stock, it would work better. First, you would get a cleaner cut. Second, the larger size of paper/picture would make for a better overlay.
BUT, there is a better way to do this and get the same effect.
ATTEMPT TWO: THE DIGITAL WAY
Digital is the way to go. I used the Photoleap app, which is an app I use frequently and highly recommend.
However, any photo app will do as long as it does two important things:
- Allows you to remove/cut out selected images or the background
- Allows you to create and blend layers
Here’s what I did.
Step 1: Upload your image of a person with a full body pose against a white background (we’re going to use the same image above). If your background is not white, you should be able to use your app to make this important and necessary change. You could use any solid color, but white allows the background images that you want to highlight to pop.
Step 2: Remove the person so you have a cut out where there body should be and a plain white background. In Photoleap, there is a handy Cutout button that will quickly and easily do this for you. You will want to choose the Background tab under the Cutout tab so that you are left with only the background. This will be your first layer.
Step 3: Add a new layer with a photo of a bookshelf. You will merge these two layers to create your image. You’ll want to have taken several bookshelf photos before beginning your edit session so you have a variety to choose from.
This created the desired effect I was going for, and I did it all in just a few moments once I had both of my pictures ready to go. I then saved my image and it was ready to go.
You could even do this with a series of pictures and create a stop motion video like the Whole Foods commercial above that inspired this entire project. You will want to repeat the above process with a variety of pictures showing slow, incremental changes and then upload them into your stop motion software editor. The key is to have a variety of images to start with and find the ones that work best. Once you have the how, it’s actually a pretty quick process.
Filed under: DIY
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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